State supreme court issues mask requirement for First Judicial Circuit

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PIERRE - The South Dakota Supreme Court Tuesday approved a judicial emergency requiring face covering use for the First Judicial Circuit.

Under the requirement, filed Oct. 20 and signed by David Gilbertson, chief justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court, all persons present in any courtroom, all persons going into any court services’ office and all persons visiting a clerk of courts’ office, as well as all persons in the adjacent public areas outside the courtroom or court offices, shall wear a mask, face shield, or other cloth or plastic covering over the nose and mouth.

The order also stated that the judge presiding in each courtroom may, for good cause, grant any individual present in a courtroom an exception to the rule.

The order does not require Unified Judicial System employees to wear facial covering in their offices unless a separate UJS or First Circuit policy requires them to do so. The presiding judge may grant any UJS employee and exception to that rule.

The order requires signs prepared by First Circuit Court Administration to be posted outside each courtroom, clerks’ office and court services’ office advising of the face covering requirements. All persons entering a courtroom, all persons going into any court services’ office and all persons visiting a clerk of courts’ office may be required to use hand sanitizer or wash their hands and shall immediately do so if requested to do so by the judge, court services officer or clerk of court.


The order will continue in effect until modified or terminated by the presiding judge.

The First Judicial Circuit Court is served by six circuit court judges, two magistrate judges, and court clerk magistrates in each county in the circuit. Assisting the presiding judge is an appointed circuit court administrator and a chief court services officer. Circuit courts include courts in Aurora, Bon Homme, Brule, Buffalo, Charles Mix, Clay, Davison, Douglas, Hanson, Hutchinson, McCook, Turner, Union and Yankton counties.

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at
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